Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Isaiah 61 Initiative, pt 3: Instead of Ashes


This is a common topic when discussing the Gospel or ministry. But it is not the byproduct of activity, service trips, bible study, or institutions. It doesn't “just happen”.

This verse of Isaiah 61 shows purpose and direction. Why did God give His Spirit? Why is He bringing favor and vengeance? The servant is being sent with a purpose. These are essentially the marching orders of the one who is accepting the mission of Isaiah 61.

Remember that these were the words Jesus quoted at the start of His ministry, and declared they were being fulfilled. This was His mission. And because it was His mission, it should be ours, for we are His disciples, and we should be like Him and walk the way He did.

However, has this happened to you? Have you received a garland instead of ashes, gladness instead of mourning, praise instead of fainting? Have you been transformed from a state of hopelessness to one of healing? If not, do not despair. This doesn't mean you are bad person, or unloved by God, or worthless. It simply means you need to pursue Jesus and ask for healing, ask to receive His Spirit. Like we mentioned before, the work of Isaiah 61 starts with ourselves first, so that we can be healed and transformed, and then empowered to go and repeat the works of ministry we've received.

But the bigger picture is that this is what God is doing. That He sent His Son to do it. And that His Son has a Body – the Church. As the Body of Christ, we should be doing the work of Christ. His hands should be working, His feet moving, His heart beating, His ears listening, His eyes seeking, and His mouth proclaiming. For some strange reason, God has decided to do so many things THROUGH His people, the Body of His Son. So the next time you ask Jesus to do something, remember that you might be the part of His Body that He tells to do it.

This theme of transformation is recurrent in scripture. You could phrase it as “from fasting to feasting”. Despair to rejoicing. Brokenness to healing. Desolation to habitation. Drought and famine to flowing streams and abundance. Transformation is what God does.

We are convinced this is the thing God is doing today. He is sending His Spirit on His servants, the different parts of the Body of Christ, to free captives and grant to them transformation, through these blessings: celebration, gladness, praise. They are proclaiming freedom and pointing people to what is beyond their misery and despair. Again, this is not a byproduct. It is accomplished through obedience to the Spirit, through work, through selfless and costly acts of love. Through this the Body really comes alive, as all the members get filled with blood, the joints begin to move and pull on each other, the muscles are worked and stretched, the heart and lungs grow stronger, and the feet become swifter. This Body becomes a real living organism, and accomplishes real ministry, which is the goal of Isaiah 61.

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